Romans 12:21 Meaning of Overcome Evil with Good

Romans 12:21
“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Explanation and Commentary of Romans 12:21

The command to overcome evil with good is one of the most fundamental aspects of the Christian faith. While it was considered foolishness to the ancient world (1 Cor 1:23), followers of Jesus are called to weaponized love and goodness. It is encouraging first to know that God has given us a cause and a way to resist evil, and not be overcome by it. There is no evil that can overcome us. Jesus said the gates of Hades cannot stand against his church (Mt 16:18). This means that we are not to passively sit still like a bulwark against the onslaught of evil, but rather we are to take the fight to darkness, bringing the light with us. We are to storm the gates of hell with our weapons of warfare, which is goodness and love.

Practically, if someone is evil towards us, we are to return blessing. Step one is to forgive them. Step two is to bless and even give love to them, speaking and acting with kindness. First of all, this attitude will make us impervious (spiritually/emotionally) to evil. The goal of evil is to bring us down and turn us from God. If we forgive and bless our persecutors, then they fail in their goal. Secondly, this attitude will eventually drive back the evil, the darkness, right through the gates of hell. In all the best movies, the good guys eventually win, because that principle is hardwired into the creation. We know that eventually Jesus is going to return, and evil will finally be overcome once and for all. Evil is on borrowed time. Satan is already defeated, and while he still is dangerous, we in the Church have been charged with plundering his house. We are to do this with goodness and love.

Breaking Down the Key Parts of Romans 12:21

#1 “Do not be overcome by evil,”
God has given us certain principles so that no matter what is happening or what sort of evil is opposed to us, we will know what to do, and we will not be overcome by it. We know that how we walk through things is dictated to us by Scripture: with love, courage, total truth, gentleness with shrewdness (Mt 10:16). But we also know that all outcomes belong to the sovereign God. If evil seems to overcome us in our own deaths, as in the case of Christ, the reality is that our hope is not in this world, and our end is Christ.

#2 “but overcome evil with good.”
This works in two possible ways. The first way is that by being and doing “good” we can turn the hearts of our oppressors from evil to good when they see our works and find in them an illustration of the Gospel. The second way is that by walking in a Christlike way through the struggle, even though we perish, our victory is in our resurrection and reward.

Bible Study on Romans 12:21

Expert Overview of Romans Ch. 5-16

Biblical Translations of Romans 12:21

NIV
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

NLT
Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.

ESV
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

KJV
Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

NKJV
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Romans 12:21 Meaning and Commentary

Author Bio
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Masters Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years. If you would like to reach out to contact Natalie, then go here to send her a message.